Today there are so many different ways to get in touch with the customer and create a great customer experience, such as through blogger outreach, and this is having a profound impact on the marketing mix as a whole. According to Forrester, 42% of adults in the U.S. are always “addressable” meaning they are attached to at least three devices. Today’s connected customer expects a personal and relevant experience regardless of the channel.
We live in an always connected culture yet customers struggle to get the information they are looking for when they want it. I believe the biggest reason for that is companies don’t think through their content distribution strategy to the same extent that they spend time on creating content. We saw this same trend when websites were all the rage. Companies spent hundreds of man-hours building perfect brand experience websites…then they had no money left over to drive people to those websites.
It is less about traditional push mediums that retailers have decided are useful in their environments and more about delivering relevant content people want, when they want it. Consumers are already besieged with too much information when they are trying to do things that they want to accomplish. Nowadays more and more purchase decisions are being made outside of the store environment. Therefore, the content that brands and retailers create needs to be findable and readable, not only when consumers are at home but also when they are on the go with their mobile devices. Mom has the most time to browse when she is waiting to pick up her kids at some activity, so the content she is looking for has to be available to her at that time. Look, some consumers will still be switched when they see additional information in store at the shelf but the majority of the time a consumer’s shopping list is set before she ever enters the store.
Brands still need to control their own messaging and develop content that supports their unique selling proposition. However, brands need to shift more of their working dollars into investments in user-generated content. Nobody trust and fully believes the claims brands make but they do believe real people who use and experience products. Brands always want to control the messaging and the fcreative; quite frankly that makes their creative less authentic. People don’t expect perfection but they do expect authenticity. If you’ve made a good product or offer a good service, user generated content can take you to the next level.
For retailers, I think the key is uniqueness. What value is the retailer adding to the consumers if it is just repeating the brand’s message without their own point of view/messaging? The retailer has a unique ability to bundle various brands together into an experience for consumers. Walmart does a good job at this and consumers know that they will get the best seasonally correct merchandise at the lowest prices. Target also does a good job at this by bringing the most fashionable seasonal approach to consumers.